Hearts of Oak’s decision to list on the Stock Market – Has it paid off?

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The uproar and reaction were huge in back in 2011. One of the two most glamorous football clubs in the history of Ghana football was about to trade its traditional status for a corporate one.

Accra Hearts of Oak was at the crossroads. To go corporate or not was the debate waging on the various media platforms in Ghana.

The few opponents of the decision to list on the Ghana Stock Exchange did so largely for fear of the fans losing their long-held influence in the decision-making process of the team. The unknown future of what could happen under the new management was also a major factor in their resistance.

But a chunk of the Phobia family had bought into the idea of the board. The idea that the new path the club was about treading is what will propel them to their desired level.

Hearts wanted to regain its spot as a domestic and continental force in the game. Simply put, the floatation of shares was to usher the club into a new dawn of glory.

The opponents’ position made no difference as the club eventually agreed to list on the stock market. In effect the public had the opportunity to own a part of the club 5 years ago.

Togbe Afede’s Strategic Africa Securities[SAS] bought the highest amount of share thus becoming the club’s leading shareholder.

Five years on, Sportworld’s Perez Erzoah looks back at some of the expectation/promises and whether they have been achieved.

New Management Structure

Soon after Togbe took over the reigns, it was expected that a new management structure will be set up and that did happen. Togbe initially practiced an executive system that saw him administer the club as its Chief Executive Officer [CEO] and managing director.

He later relinquished the post after a string of poor results and also due his busy schedule as a traditional ruler and business mogul. Neil Armstrong, Gerald Ankrah and Vincent Odotei have since served in the position.

The most recent being Odotei who is head of the three-man Strategic Management Committee that was set up after Gerald Ankrah was relieved of his post. In all the changings that have ensued none of the revered administrators has brought the desired success to the team.

Team Performance

Part of the reason Hearts wanted to list on the GSE was because the team had gone two years without the premier league title. The new managers were expected to help Hearts reclaim its status as a leading a club in domestic and continental competitions.

It was expected of them to push the club to the status of its compatriots, Kotoko on the local scene, El Ahly, Zamalek, TP Mazembe and host of others on continental scene. Five years under Togbe and Hearts are yet to win a local trophy (i.e. The Premier League or FA Cup.)

The emergence of clubs like Berekum Chelsea, Aduana Stars, Medeama SC and Wa All Stars as forces in the local game has made the league a keenly contested competition making it difficult for Hearts to enjoy the dominance of yesteryears in the league.

The club’s performance has been unimpressive and disappointing to its teeming fans. The club has flirted with relegation twice in the last five years, finishing 13th in the 2014-2015 league.

A record fans wouldn’t want to remember given that it ranks among their worst ‘feats’ in their over 100-year history. In terms of continental football, Hearts are yet to make it to the money zone of any CAF competition under the new owners.

In the second part of this piece, I explore the areas of player recruitment, branding and sponsorship and infrastructure over the last five years.

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